Migrant workers at Almograve Youth Hostel, in the Odemira borough, where they were put into isolation earlier this month Photo: NUNO VEIGA/LUSA

Odemira

I have lived in Pereiras-Gare in Odemira for some 15 years now. I absolutely love the area, the scenery, the traditions and, above all, the people.

I read your article ‘PM forced into damage control intervention over Covid blackspot of Odemira’ and would like to add my voice to the concerns about our area and the Alentejo in general.

Since austerity began in 2008/09, I have seen investment in our area plummet. The railway stations in Pereiras-Gare and São Marcos da Serra were closed for no obvious reason. The roads have degraded to a perilous state.

The Extensão de Saúde in Sabóia is virtually falling down with dangerous cracks in supporting walls that you can put your fingers in! It is only open for two days a week and during the early days of the pandemic was not open at all for weeks.

The area has an aging elderly population who often cannot drive or do not have transport and have to rely on very expensive taxis to visit dentists etc. in Messines in the Algarve because they closed a perfectly good station. The adult population has to run expensive and environmentally unfriendly vehicles to work in the Algarve for the same reason.

Bus services only travel to Odemira infrequently and they run aging, environmentally damaging vehicles.
Every year, we have the same speech from our daughter’s excellent school in Sabóia, warning us that the school is in danger of closing due to lack of funding. That would mean children from ages 10 having to travel all the way to Odemira, a 45-minute journey early every morning and back late in the afternoon.

I would love you to come and photograph the road from Nave Redonda to Sabóia and the disgraceful state of the health centre in Sabóia to shame central government in shiny Lisboa into spending a little cash to at least make them safe. Huge, extremely heavy lorries loaded with eucalyptus from Monchique career down the narrow road, often on the wrong side of the road to avoid the pot-holes that they have created in the first place!

I have also heard tales of the difficulties that local entrepreneurs face trying to set up new business in the region due to red tape and skulduggery within the Odemira council. These small businesses would employ a few local people and help keep the villages alive. Maybe people would actually want to come and live and work here if there wasn’t a constant question mark over local education, transport, health and availability of work.

Water is running out in Santa Clara Barragem. It is 11 years since I last remember it being full. At the same time, I have seen the pernicious spread of the plastic covering the coastal area between São Teotónio and Aljezur. I suspect that they guzzle even more water than is reported and I also suspect that the legality of some of the many hectares is to be questioned, especially with a so-called national park.

Even though this year has seen more rain, the levels that I see in the barragem seem as low as ever.

Where is all the water going and who is making sure it is paid for and, more importantly, conserved? There is a very real threat of desertification in this area unless radical policies are pursued urgently.

I love this area and this country, and I just want to see the local population served well by their local, regional and national governing bodies.

Rodg